Middle Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1975 | 141,178 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I in the timeframe A.D. 985-1070. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Kalakkattur is a hamlet in the Kanchipuram taluk of Chingle-put district. It lies about two kms to the right of the road from Kanchipuram to Uttaramerur at the seventh km stone and is situated at the base of the bund of a lake called Putteri. In this village, there is an Early Chola temple standing amidst paddy fields.

Agnisvara temple

The temple is a karrali (stone temple) facing east. It consists of the garbhagriha, 4 ms square, with recesses in the antarala part, with a later closed mandapa having an entrance to the south, which is a square of side 5.50 ms. The garbhagriha has no superstructure now. There is a ruined madil.

There are a shrine for Ganapati to the east of the mandapa and a Nandi in front of the temple in the same axis as the Linga of the garbhagriha.

The devakoshta sculptures are of interest. Ganapati andDurga are in the south and north wall niches of the antarala; Dakshina-murti, Ardhanari and Brahma are respectively in the south, west and north niches of the garbhagriha. All the sculptures are of high quality and could be assigned to the ninth century a.d. The presence of Ardhanari in the rear devakoshta indicates that the garbhagriha and these sculptures should be assigned to the period of Aditya I (Pis 137 to 140).

Seven inscriptions have been copied from this village. The earliest of them is one on a slab set up near the Pidari temple. It belongs to the seventh regnal year of Parthivendradhipati-varman, the Chola prince and viceroy in this region during the period prior to the accession of Rajaraja I, who was in a large measure responsible for the reconquest of the region of Tondai-mandalam over-run and ruled by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (see my Early Chola Temples, pp. 204 - 205). This record (ARE 117 of 1923) refers to a gift of land, after purchase, for mid-day offerings to the temple of Subrahmanyar at Kalakattur by one Chakrapani Venkadan of the same village which is given the alternate name of Attinamach-chaturvedimangalam and is said to be located east of the Chandramegha-tatakam—presumably the lake now called the Putteri on whose bund the village and the temple are situated.

What is now called the Agnisvara temple is mentioned in the inscriptions on its walls as the temple of Uruni Alvar. There are six inscriptions in the temple, but none of them is a foundation inscription. Of these, three belong to the reign of Rajaraja I. The earliest of them is one of his fourteenth regnal year (ARE 121 of 1923). We learn that Kalakattur was a sala bhoga (a feeding house) of Tiruvegambapuram[1], that the king himself desired the gift of only one lamp in this temple “for the prosperity of all the kings and of the world at large”—echoing the traditional age-long prayer of every pious Hindu, “sarve janaha sukhino bhavantu”, but that provision was made for two perpetual lamps by Vennaip-puttur Udaiyar Kandan Maindan of the village of Kalakattur in Eri-kil nadu, included in Kaliyur kottam.

The next inscription, which is of his seventeenth year is fragmentary, but the previous donor figures in this also (ARE 118 of 1923); it registers a gift by Made van Kolambattadigal of Kusappur, in Pulal kottam of Tondai Nadu.

There are two inscriptions of Rajendra I, both of his third regnal year. In one (ARE 120 of 1923), Kalakkattur is said to be a sala bhoga of Tiruvegambapuram (see no. 121 above) in Eri-kil nadu. The other (ARE 122 of 1923) registers a gift of five cows for supplying curds to the god Uruni Alvar of Kalakkattur by the Madhyastha of Nallarrur in Sengattu kottam.

The existence of three temples in this village—the Pidari temple, the Subrahmanyar temple and the Agnisvara temple—is thus brought out by the local inscriptions. Though the earliest inscription concerning it is one of Rajaraja I’s, we can assign the Agnisvara temple to the period of Aditya I of the Early Chola age based on the evidence of the sculpture of Ardhanarisvara placed in the devakoshta of the central shrine.

Footnotes and references:


Brahmadesam, in Cheyyar taluk of North Arcot district, bore in the ancient days the name of Rajamalla-chaturvedimangalam, which was a part of Tiruvegambapuram, in Damar-kottam (ARE 189 of 1915).

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